MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Fast response times critical to customer experience and brand loyalty

BY By Marianne Wilson

Retailers who frustrate consumers risk brand abandonment.

Almost half of North American and European consumers surveyed by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council say they will abandon a brand if they continuously encounter a poor, impersonal or frustrating customer experience across channels of engagement. The study was undertaken in partnership with SAP Hybris.

When asked to outline the key aspects of an exceptional customer experience, 52% expected fast response times to needs, suggestions or issues. Forty-seven percent wanted knowledgeable staff ready to assist wherever and whenever needed.

Less important were elements like always-on assisted service (8%), brand-developed social communities to connect consumers with other fans (9%), and access to multiple touchpoints as part of the customer journey.

The most common frustration for consumers in engaging with brands is price increases on products that consumers do not perceive as having improved or been given added value. The second most common frustration (36%) is when consumers are not treated like the loyal customers.

The cost of continuing to frustrate consumers is brand abandonment as 47% say they will stop doing business with a brand. While 32% of consumers would email the company to complain and 29% would tell all family and friends, the overwhelming reaction to frustration was to abandon the brand and spend their money elsewhere.

"Today, the differentiator isn't whether we are able to individualize an experience, but rather having the insight and intelligence to know where, when and how a customer expects to be greeted with value and relevance," explained Liz Miller, senior VP of marketing at the CMO Council. "Consumers don't need personalization at every moment. But what this research amplifies is the requirement to get relevant, personalized experiences right for an audience of one in their micro-moment of need."

Other key findings from the study include:

-70% of consumers are willing to share some degree of their personal data with brands; 22% say they will only share data if it is being used to deliver more relevant and better offers.

-Consumers are willing to share data in exchange for value, with value is defined as something that saves money (77%), saves time (49%) or makes life easier (47%).

-While men admit they prefer mostly digital experiences (61% ), women (59%) admit that no channel really meets all of their needs.

-The top frustration for women ties back to the disconnect in physical and digital experiences as they are most irked by buying something online and not being able to return it in store (56%). Men, on the other hand, are most frustrated by constantly feeling the brands they do business with know nothing about them.

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ECOMMERCE

Online giant blending offline and online grocery — and it’s not Amazon

BY By Marianne Wilson

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has stepped up its efforts to combine physical retail with online in the supermarket space.


The Chinese e-commerce behemoth has opened three new membership supermarkets, under the Hema banner, in Beijing and Shanghai, that seamlessly blend offline features with physical retail. The shopping experience starts with a download of the Helma mobile app, which links up to a customer’s Taobao or Alipay account. Using the app, customers can shop from the their homes, and also order fresh food to have it prepared by the Hema chefs and delivered within 30 minutes.

Customers who prefer to shop in store can also select items to be cooked for carry-out, delivered to their nearby home or office, or they can eat it on the spot in the store’s dining area. Hema stores look like normal supermarkets, with a selection of packaged foods, produce, seafood, beverages and other goods. Every item has a scannable bar code, which yields price and product information, including its origin and backstory (if there is one.) Customers scan the code and complete their electronic purchase through Alipay at a checkout register before leaving the store.

The Hema user experience is enhanced through big data, according to Alibaba. Because customers shop through the Hema mobile app, every purchase is logged, and their preferences are saved, giving them a personalized product page.

"We believe the future of New Retail will be a harmonious integration of online and offline, and Hema is a prime example of this evolution that's taking place," said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, said in a statement. "Hema is a showcase of the new business opportunities that emerge from online-offline integration.”

Since 2015, Alibaba has opened 13 Hema markets, with ten in Shanghai, two in Beijing, and one in Ningbo.

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News

Walmart opens massive online center

BY By Marianne Wilson

Walmart is bringing 1,500 jobs to Florida as it continues to expand its e-commerce fulfillment network.

The discounter on Tuesday opened an e-commerce fulfillment center in Davenport, Fla. At 2.2. million sq. ft., the state-of-the-art facility is equivalent in size to about 20 football fields and features 33 miles of shelving and dock doors that can withstand wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour. It will house millions of items dedicated to fulfilling online orders and will enable faster shipping directly to customers or to stores for free pickup, Walmart said.

The facility is the sixth addition to the next-generation fulfillment network that Walmart is building to support its e-commerce business. The new 50-acre campus is part of a $450 million investment the retailer previously announced it is making in Florida between 2017 and 2018.

“This campus is just the latest example of Walmart’s commitment to offering customers fast shipping on items they need every day,” said Nate Faust, senior VP, Walmart U.S. e-commerce supply chain. “We’re excited not only about the economic impact our facility has had, and will continue to have, in the community, but also how it will help us empower our customers to shop when and how they want.”

The opening comes at a time of growth in e-commerce for Walmart. In the first quarter of this year, the retailer experienced 63% growth in U.S. e-commerce sales, the majority coming from organic growth in Walmart.com. Since the beginning of the year, Walmart.com has rolled out a number of new features, including free two-day shipping with no membership fees, an extra discount for picking up orders in stores and the ability to easily reorder online or make store purchases within the Walmart app.

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